NSW by-elections live

7.51pm. The NSWEC has all but a few booths in from Port Macquarie, and you can now clearly call it for Peter Besseling, who leads the Nationals candidate 36.8 per cent to 31.9 per cent. Elsewhere it’s clear the results are as expected: a big win for the Liberals in Ryde, and narrower wins for Labor in Cabramatta and Lakemba following swings of over 20 per cent.

7.30pm. With 22.4 per cent counted, Besseling 37.6 per cent and Nationals 31.9 per cent, so Besseling home and hosed unless these are very good Nationals booths outstanding.

7.26pm. Labor’s lead now up to 5.7 per cent in Cabramatta according to the ABC. Still no actual prefernece counts in yet.

7.24pm. Seven booths out of 21 counted on the primary vote in Ryde, and that Taverner poll is looking good: Liberal on 62 per cent of the two-party vote.

7.23pm. ABC computer has Besseling leading by 1.2 per cent in Port Macquarie, but with no notional preference counts in yet this is based on assumptions about preferences.

7.21pm. The ABC computer is now up to speed on the Cabramatta count: Labor is facing a 24 per cent swing, but that leaves them with 5 per cent to spare.

7.14pm. No real trouble for Labor in Lakemba, with 59.2 per cent after a third of the booths counted.

7.11pm. NSWEC has eight booths counted in Cabramatta, Labor leading 48.0 per cent to 40.4 per cent, so Nick Lalich is not actually in trouble. Liberals on 54.9 per cent in Ryde with over a third of the booths counted, so an obvious win for them there.

7.08pm. Comments tells me Cabramatta “tightening”, but ABC computer still only has one booth. NSWEC website most unwieldy (PDFs? Come on …).

7.00pm. Nine booths in and 6 per cent counted in Port Macquarie, and looking ominous for the Nationals, who trail Besseling 35.0 per cent to 32.9 per cent on the primary vote. Still nothing from Ryde.

6.55pm. Labor looking at an ugly swing in Cabramatta of over 20 per cent, but not enough to cost them the seat.

6.50pm. Commenter Oakeshott Country, who knows his Port Macquarie onions backwards, says the three small booths in so far suggest a very close result between the Nationals candidate Leslie Williams and independent Peter Besseling.

6.42pm. Riverwood booth in from Lakemba. Labor vote on 55.3 per cent, which suggests a 20 per cent drop.

6.20pm. Booths closed 20 minutes ago. First results should be in shortly.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

206 comments on “NSW by-elections live”

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  1. Andrew Stoner, NSW Nats leader, is apparently rather annoyed with the Libs supporting Besseling in Port Macquarie – article here. Thinking out loud here… the smart thing for him to do would be to break the coalition and do what Brendon Grylls just successfully did in WA. Thing is, NSW has several rural independents already, so that could turn messy. Imagine a four way cornered contest between Libs, Nats, an independent and maybe ALP running fourth, somewhere like Oxley (Stoner’s seat), Barwon, Myall Lakes etc. Gonna need to watch themselves.

    Also, it’s possible the Greens could do well in Ballina or Lismore. Five-cornered contest, anyone?

  2. No 150

    And the Greens are run by an ex-communist, so I don’t think any sane person would want them to be in government.

  3. No 136

    Albertross, how can the Libs possibly be worse than the absolute bloody rabble that are running the joint in NSW at the moment? NSW Labor is really indefensible. They are worse than Gough Whitlam’s rabble – perhaps the worst in Australian federal history – and that’s saying something!

  4. I’d also like to put in a good word for Dai Le who against all odds secured an enormous swing of 22% in her favour. Not enough to win, but a gargantuan effort nonetheless. I’d say Nick Lalich, the pathetic mayor of Fairfield, should be watching himself. Dai Le may well have a chance to win in 2.5 years, now that the seat is at a reasonable margin.

  5. GP, no doubt Dai Le did a tremendous job, but these by-election swings don’t stick. Remember that Labor won back Bass Hill in 1988 and easily retained Rockdale, not to mention Canberra at the 1996 federal election – both of which were otherwise disastrous elections for them.

  6. No 155

    True to an extent, but Le is unique in the sense that her ethnic connection to the local community makes her a strong candidate. Moreover, given the fact that the people of NSW must endure another 2.5 years of Labor rabble, it may not be so easy for Lalich.

  7. Against which odds, GP? People were expecting big swings. And if you reckon she’s got a chance in 2011… look up the Bass Hill and Rockdale by-elections. The Unsworth govt got destroyed at the next election after that, but those two seats swung back to Labor. Most likely the same thing’ll happen here – half the seats in Sydney will go Liberal (plus a couple to the Greens), but there’s be 10-15% swings to Labor in Lakemba and Cabramatta.

  8. Also, don’t forget that she was parachuted into the seat only three weeks ago. A 22% swing is remarkable. Imagine the potential with 30 months of getting to know the community even better. You can’t discount her.

  9. No 157

    I was expecting big swings BoP, but nowhere in the vicinity of 22% – especially in a seat with a 30% margin! I thought we’d only get Ryde with a 12% swing. We got 25% in the end. Even Lakemba got a 15% swing. These are massive swings.

    Granted, I expect Lakemba will probably swing back to Labor. But I think Cabramatta is different. If Dai Le stays on to contest it in 2011, I think she has every chance of winning.

  10. A very interesting link here – Antony Green on the 2005 by-elections. Apparently Northern Tablelands had a swing of 4.2% at a by-election in 1987, then 24% at the following election. Anyone looking for a record swing, that’s gotta be pretty close to the mark.

  11. GP,

    If the Liberal Party can’t win the seat in a by-election – where anti-government feeling is at its most magnified – then they’re not going to win it at a general election. It’s as simple as that.

    This is still the same seat that voted Labor 79-21 at the last election, and as such the Libs will still be effectively aiming for a 29% swing at the next election. No matter how on the nose Labor are, that’s not gonna happen.

    I don’t think the personality of the candidates really comes into it in a major way. But even if it did, it’s difficult to see how 2½ years of Liberal campaigning trumps 2½ years of a Labor MP serving his constituents.

    And I say this as someone who thinks the Coalition will win the next state election in a canter. But as for upending ALP heartland seats like Cabramatta? Fuhgedaboutit. The Liberals will have to do more than just stand Asian candidates to win over working class Asian voters.

    If the seat was ever going to fall, it would have fallen tonight. Clearly it’s just not that sort of seat.

  12. 116 “I’d trade another election loss to watch her go down in flames in 2010.”

    That’s a lot of hurt you’re still carrying, especially 11 months on. You should look at the positive of McKew’s win, it saved Howard the embaressment of coming up with an excuse to break another promise to resign his seat after the libs defeat.

    It also highlights as others have pointed out, including Costello, the folly of focusing on the person instead of the party. that person departs and it leaves a vacuum behind.

    I’d lay Turnbull to follow Howard as the next leader to lose his seat and then Hockey in 2013.

  13. 162 Castle, just keep an eye out for Caloundra in the next Queensland state election where the Deputy Leader of the Liberal National Party parliamentary team, Mark McArdle is a big risk of being ousted. The latest redistribution was very unkind to him.

  14. steve,

    Caloundra’s gone from 4.4% to 2.2%.

    But if this year’s state and territory elections have taught us anything, it’s that the conservative oppositions will be making up ground at future elections, not losing ground. McArdle is probably safe.

  15. David, it looks as though you are planning to bet against him and are trying to ensure good odds for yourself. Bet early and bet often would be the best approach.

  16. Now that Malcolm is leader he should be able to improve his position in Wentworth! yes Howard was leader but he seemed to have less in common with Bennenlong than Turnbull has with Wentworth.

    Can seats like Cabramatta and Lakemba fall at the next state election, I seriously dealt that the Liberals will get close.

    The thing I notice when looking though election results is for the most part Elections are won and lost in the same seats election after election, very rearly do we have a large transfer of seats from one party heartland towards the other side.

    Sure there may be ALP seats around the 10-15% margin that may fall but the irony of Australian politics is the more things change the more they stay the same.

    Therefore the next NSW election will be decided in the same seats that have hearlded the past few changes of Government.

  17. I would be surprised if the ALP won additional seats in Qld, they have had two very large wins and have been unable to win the seat of Caloundra! a Government seeking a fourth term very rearly win extra seats unless the opposition does something wrong or there is sonme local factor but I would imagine that the ALP would be putting their resources into seats they already hold therefore the campaign for Caloundra wont be as well funded therefore the sitting MP as long as he is well liked should be able to hold.

  18. GP(152)

    You really do need to get over this communist fixation of yours. The cold war finished twenty years ago.

    BTW did you notice that the socialist economic theories of John Maynard Keynes are being used by governments all across the western world right now to dig us out of the financial hole we’re all in – just as they were during the great depression of the 1930s?. The world is not as black and white as some would have us believe and arguably it is unrestrained capitalism that is our biggest threat at the moment – not communism.

  19. GP insufferable as ever chunders of a Sunday morning:

    how can the Libs possibly be worse than the absolute bloody rabble that are running the joint

    The NSW Liberals have form…

    And the Greens are run by an ex-communist, so I don’t think any sane person would want them to be in government.

    And your point is… Firstly Lee Rhiannon is not leader of the Greens in NSW, plus you had better have some facts to back your quite pernicious lie up. Do you write for the Tel-a-lie? Membership many years ago of a youth political organisation is hardly grounds for a lifelong ban on political activity as you seem to suggest. As in Ireland and Germany (and ACT, Leichhardt and Byron for that matter) the Greens are going to be active participants in government in Australia so get used to it.

    she was parachuted into the seat only three weeks ago. A 22% swing is remarkable.

    If by “parachuted” you mean she joined the Liberal Party days before nominating you would be right. What does this say about the Liberal Party organisation? Let me spell it out – they have no one repeat no one locally who they could run as a credible candidate. They had to run a latte sipping, inner city terrace dwelling member of the mainstream media (ABC Radio National at that) – just how bankrupt is that?

    Her personal campaign was based almost entirely on her ethnicity. This did not go down well with the other ethnic groups in the area: Italians, Serbs, Poles etc.. They did not work for her on the hustings (100% of the helpers of the booths I was on were from areas outside Cabramatta) nor does it seem that they voted for her in any great numbers.

    I don’t hold any brief for Nick Lalich but he is a local and he has been on Fairfield Council for 21 years. The people’s verdict on him in the popular vote for Mayor the other week was that he got 61%. The Libs got 33%.

    You should really take tablets for that Born to Rule fantasy you have and you should also get out more.

  20. Darn, Keynes was not a socialist! He was a British liberal (a very different beast to the ignorant populist reactionary swill of used-car dealers and crooked solicitors who try to pass themselves off as liberals in this country).

  21. Albertross comment “You should really take tablets for that Born to Rule fantasy”

    I think we now know what the other tables in the Matrix Movie are for 😉

  22. Adam (172)

    I know Keynes was not a card carrying socialist, but his theories – which have been proven absolutely correct for these circumstances – IMHO definitely have a socialist tinge about them – enough for the rampant free marketeers of the US to feel decidedly uncomfortable with the government “interference” in their financial institutions at the moment..

  23. Julie Bishop thinks Cabramatta is still in doubt lol
    “It’s certainly been a political earthquake in NSW when seats like Cabramatta are still in question,” Ms Bishop told the Ten Network.

  24. If we are going to discuss ‘Asian’ voters it’s the middle-class voters in this group that are significant. Labor’s apparent loss of these voters in Ryde suggests that some 10%+ seats are at risk ie. Strathfield which was a Liberal seat before 1999. it is amusing however how the political right usually crusade against the evils of ethnic politics (Labor branch stacking, family reunion blah blah etc.) but whenever they think there are votes to be had they reverse this position overnight. Still such Liberal pragmatism is good for multiculturalism.

  25. GP’s comment about Dai Le’s ‘ethnic connection’ to the community was fairly brain-dead, but actually correct in a way. There’s a very interesting documentary called ‘Taking Charge Of Cabramatta’, which was on ABC a few years ago – about a Vietnamese festival in Cabramatta, a few years after John Newman was murdered. Trouble was, one of the main subjects of it was Phuong Ngo, and he got arrested for the murder shortly after filming finished, and the film ended up not released until a couple of years ago. Anyway, it was made by Dai Le, and her husband Markus Lambert – he was also a Fairfield councillor, and ran against Meagher as an independent in 1999. Didn’t get close, but did come second (he’s partly responsible for a blip in the ALP primary vote seen on this page). So there’s your connection. For what it’s worth (nothin’ 😛 ), I’d’ve preferenced her above Labor if I was voting there.

    There’s a page on the doco here. I’m not sure if it’s downloadable from anywhere, but if you can get hold of it, I recommend it. 😉

  26. Generic Person,
    I can understand you going all splooey over the fragrant Dai Le with that mammoth swing. However, it may be worth noting that she has committed the same sin that the irksome Ms Meagher was guilty of. That is, not living in the electorate. While I understand that living in Dulwich Hill cannot compare to living next door to the Bra Boys at Coogee, it stiil doesn’t cut it as living in Cabramatta. And we both know that these these by-elections are cathartic for voters. The vast majority of the Cabramatta, Lakemba and even Ryde voters will be back. And Dai le will be standing on a corner on New Canterbury Rodad wondering what happened.
    But you can look forward to a Lib government in NSW. I just hope big Barry takes out the hopeless Kenneally from Heffron. Well, we can always hope…

  27. Roy, I’ll shoot myself before I let my seat, Heffron, turn Liberal. If Labor gets a ~7% swing against it, and most of that goes to The Greens, we’ll have a Greens MP.

  28. Oz,
    I live there too and I’ve never voted anything but Labor since 1974. But I will be voting against this princess first chance I get. And I reckon you’d shoot yourself if you had to deal with her office. But she will prevail, and she and her staff will go on providing sub-standard service.

  29. Maaaaaan, I hate this Labor government and Keneally quite a bit… but the Libs?

    I think The Greens have a good chance of outpolling the Libs and then overtaking Labor. But I can’t see Greens voters here preferencing the Libs over Labor, so if Greens don’t win then Labor will.

  30. re: Vera @ #175
    [Julie Bishop thinks Cabramatta is still in doubt lol]

    You think that’s funny.
    In Lakemba, the Liberal candidate’s election fliers are being distributed TODAY!

  31. LOL, it’s funny to see the poor old geriatric Liberal people still fighting the Cold War. Communists, indeed! The party of the past, cooling their heels in God’s waiting room, fixated on the past…

  32. Despite the massive 22 percent swing to the Nationals they failed to pick up Port Macquarie. The good outcome of the result is that all New South Wales Nationals members now know that the Liberals are out for their destruction. Rural Liberals Bill Hefferan and Alby Shultz conspired with Local Liberal Branch President Ken Dodds and his band of 11 members(probably blowins from Sydney) to see Independent Peter Bressling win the seat.
    The Liberals must never be allowed to gain a foothold in Northern NSW has they have done in Southern NSW(state: Wagga, Albury, Goulburn and Bega; Federal: Farrer, Gilmore and Hume all in former Nationals heartland)
    Whilst in Queensland the two parties have come together under the LNP due in part to the Nationals having been the dominant party. New South Wales is different and the National Party will have to be more aggressive against the Liberals in order to survive.

  33. Mate, virtually all Port Macquarie people are blow-ins from Sydney. The days of the National party having any relevance here finished on Saturday.

  34. The Nationals ran a filthy campaign in Port Macquarie, as usual, and deserved to lose.

    The ‘Just Vote 1’ campaign was organised and run by the Nats in an attempt to stop voters giving preferences that might have gone to Peter Besseling.
    Today in the Port Macquarie News the Nats NSW state director Ben Franklin was claiming that the Nationals encouraged people to simply vote one for Leslie Williams in the lead-up to Saturday’s by-election because they were confident that she would be one of the top two candidates and preferences would not be needed. Utter bullshit! The Nats had phone polled extensively in the weeks before the by-election and had learnt that preferences would be vital and would probably allow Besseling to take the seat. They had embarked on a crusade to make sure all voters did not allocate any preferences at all. Fortunately it didn’t work out as they had hoped.

    The Nats ran the ‘Just Vote 1’ campaign. Polling places were festooned with red and white ‘Just Vote 1’ posters. People on hand-out duty wore white T-shirts with ‘Just Vote 1’ emblazoned in red, they did an excellent job of pretending to be representatives from the State Electoral Office. It was only when you read the extremely small print at the bottom of their literature that you found out this shonky little operation had been approved by the Nats.

    Then there’s the appeal to the Greens to take Besseling’s name off the how-to-vote info. Greens campaigners on polling booth duty on Saturday claimed to have been present when a phone call came in with that request, it most definitely did not stop after a few bantering words between Sylvia Hale and Melinda Pavey.

    There was also the scare campaign aimed at elderly voters. Mrs Wiliams held a public meeting where she claimed that the NSW government would pass legislation that would see oldies in retirement communities out of pocket for expenses such as maintenance and capital improvement. She came over all caring and promised to fight this dreadful law. She forgot to tell her audience that the Retirement Villages Amendment Bill 2008 had already been passed by the Legislative Assembly with enthusiastic support from her own party and has been introduced to the Legislative Council on 23 September 2008, where it is expected to pass without any problem. She didn’t mention to her audience that she would, if elected, have no chance at all to debate the bill or to ‘fight’ it.

  35. The real dirty campaign in Port Macquarie was run by the 11 local Liberals supported by its property developer president Ken Dodds.

    The Liberals dreams of holding Northern NSW seats leds them into the arms of so-called independents to the great detriment of the Coalition.

    The Nationals play their politics tough only because they have to an alliance and coalition of all groupings within the Australian political establishment are out for their complete destruction. The Just Vote One strategy was clever and was used successful in Queensland under Beattie Labor.

  36. Nash and OC: What do you reckon the chances are of more local independents taking out existing National seats like Barwon, Myall Lakes, Oxley etc? It seems to be becoming the usual thing over there. (The same kind of swap from one independent to another at a by-election happened in Dubbo a few years back.)

  37. The chance was blown in Myall Lakes at the 2003 election. A single good independent should have got up but the mayors of both Great Lakes and Taree both stood and Chadban from Great Lakes “forgot” to register his HTV. Both these long standing mayors are gone and I don’t think anyone local has a significant profile at the moment. Paul Hogan the new mayor of Taree may be able to develop a profile over the next 30 months, if he wants to.

  38. Paul Nash,
    All of the NSW Nationals’ state MPs on the mid north coast are blow-ins.

    John Turner, the member for Myall Lakes, is a blow-in from Cessnock. He only moved from Cessnock after being elected to parliament.
    Andrew Stoner, member for Oxley, is a blow-in from Brisbane. He joined the NSW Nationals just before the 1996 Port Macquarie by-election.
    Andrew Fraser, member for Coffs Harbour is from Newcastle.

    As for Southern NSW being Nationals heartland, I suggest you do a little research.
    Here’s a few points I can recall off the top of my head.
    State seats:
    Albury – has never been won by the Nationals or Country Party
    Wagga – has not been won by the Nationals or Country Party since 1938
    Bega – the seat was created in 1988 and has only been contested once by the Nationals. From what I can determine, the Nationals or Country Party have never won a seat on the NSW South Coast.
    Goulburn – this seat has been held by Ron Brewer and Robert Webster for National / Country Party. The Nats were kind enough to donate it to the Liberals.

    Farrer – this seat was created in 1949 and has only ever had one non Liberal Party member, Tim Fischer.
    Gilmore – this seat is hardly National Party heartland. The seat that John Sharp won in 1984 included Goulburn and towns further west. Even after door knocking every town in the electorate, the Nats were struggling to reach 20% in South Coast booths.
    Hume – the Nationals all but gave this seat to the Liberals. IMHO if Alby retired (or carked it) then the Nats have a reasonable chance of regaining this seat.

  39. The National/Country Party’s strength in the north rather than the south of NSW owes much to the party’s long connections with the New England New State movement. It’s only after the defeat of the New State Referendum in 1967 that the Country Party finally let the idea of a New England state slip. Mind you, the Liberal Party made sure they included Newcastle in the proposed state to ensure that the referendum was defeated.

  40. To Answer the Previous blogs;

    Bird of Paradox at 189

    I hope the age of the rural independents in over in New South Wales come the next election. Dubbo was close both at the by-election to replace McCrane with Fardell and her re-election at the 2007 election. Labor preferences assisted her on both occasions and with Labor on the nose their preferences will be fewer and fewer come 2011. This should assist the Nationals in reclaiming Dubbo and Tamworth on simple mathematical dimensions. The Speaker of the NSW lower House elected by his Labor mates is Richard Torbay the Independent member for Northern Tablelands and his spending big according to some sources in the Parliamentary speakers office this should rub off in 2011 and see the Nationals return in this seat once held by Wran Labor. Port Macquarie may come back to the Nationals with a higher voter turnout at a General Election.

    Barry 99 @ 191 and Antony Green @ 192

    I understand both your points well but the real problem facing the National profile particularly in Southern NSW is the effect aggregation of Regional TV stations in the early 1990’s. Win based in Wollongong is Sydney centric and the National Party profile in submerged by this Labor/Liberal main contest. NBN in Northern NSW is still problematic but not yet to the same degree.

  41. If 2011 is to be a rerun of 1988 Labor’s problem is that the left vote is split, many Green voters will only vote 1. Labor might do worse in Sydney than in 1988: Blacktown & Londonderry look at risk, but Labor might do a bit better in the country than in 1988 Bathurst & Cessnock should be held and Monaro might be difficult for the Nats.

  42. Paul Nash,
    Your comments sound like something from National Leader magazine or its predecessor, The Countryman.

    If TV aggregation hurt the Nationals so much, how come independent candidates with limited resources have flourished since 1991?

    Maybe the electors are astute enough to realise that an independent MP can do more for their electorate then a National Party opposition backbencher.

  43. No 171

    Albertross, what a load of rubbish mate.

    Dai Le was raised in the area, married in the area and her family in the area. So she is not some candidate that has absolutely no links to the community unlike the former Member for Coogeematta, Reba Meagher, who was parachuted from the eastern suburbs to run for Cabramatta in 1994. Your absolute failure to recognise that fact highlights your appalling double standards.

    SNIP: Defamatory comment deleted – The Management.

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